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July 19, 2005

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Martin

Wow. Did you just effectively debunk Wilson without seeing fit to mention his wife?!?

A pity the Administartion couldn't.

Toby Petzold

From the NYT editorial:

Coerced waivers of confidentiality are meaningless.

Is that also Matt Cooper's legal opinion of the waiver that the President asked Rove and Libby and everybody else "involved" to sign 18 months ago? I find it difficult to believe that the original waiver's supposed lack of comprehensiveness was really what took Cooper to the brink of jail. I think the real factor was Cooper's bad conscience, knowing that he had tried to bait Rove into confirming something he himself already believed to be true.

Oh, well. Now comes the SCOTUS nomination announcement, which has obviously been planned for this evening to distract the public.

Leftists sticking up for the CIA! Who would've guessed?!

TM

Re Cooper: I really wanted to point out that they ignored the fact that Tim Russert of NBC News and Glenn Kessler and Walter Pincus of the WaPo manage to work out a deal with the prosecutor.

The WaPo has a good history on protecting sources, and Tim Russert is highly regarded. What's up with Judy, and why can't she reach a deal?

Walter

It is unfortunate that the Administration has spent so much effort in an organized smear campaign against a nobody like Joe Wilson when Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the anthrax killer and so many other real enemies are free to carry out their terror against our country and our allies.

Luciferous

Judy can't get her source to agree to surface. Or, if her source came forward, it would be very bad news for Judy, and therefore Judy doesn't press the issue.

TM

Ahh, Judy's source! Howard Kurtz of the WaPo says this on Saturday:

While media coverage in recent days has focused on conversations White House senior adviser Karl Rove had with reporters, two sources say Miller spoke with Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, during the key period in July 2003 that is the focus of Fitzgerald's investigation.

The two sources, one who is familiar with Libby's version of events and the other with Miller's, said the previously undisclosed conversation occurred a few days before Plame's name appeared in Robert D. Novak's syndicated column on July 14, 2003. Miller and Libby discussed former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, Plame's husband, who had recently alleged that the Bush administration twisted intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, according to the source familiar with Libby's version.

Two sources, very impressive, and it is consistent with what the WaPo reported last fall.

But wait! Come Monday, Howie is nothing but angst and regrets:

Some [liberal critics] even fault Judith Miller for her act of conscience in going to jail, saying the New York Times reporter is merely protecting Rove (though no one knows whether her source was the White House political adviser or someone else).

No one knows? What about WaPo readers from Saturday, with two sources?

Reading this is like watching a tennis match from midcourt. Well, I guess - I mean, who ever would?

max

Walter,

I'm sure that you meant to say:

"It is unfortunate that the dishonest/dysfunctional/dyxlexic (your pick) msm has spent so much effort in an organized smear campaign against the President of the United States in a time of war when Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the anthrax killer and so many other real enemies are free to carry out their terror against our country and our allies."

TM - At what point is your patience going to snap and you come out and say - "The msm in general, and the nyt in particular, have behaved dishonestly throughout nadagate for contempible partisan political purposes"?

Lion

The debunking of Wilson without mentioning his wife's name is possible now in light of the SSCI report. At the time of his op-ed piece, his most salient falsehood was in implying that he had been sent by the VP's office. He hadn't; he had been sent on the reommendation of his wife. Whoever first pointed that out to the press did a public service. It was Novak who supplied the name.

Forbes

Telling the truth = smearing, according to Walt. If Joe Wilson could tell the difference, we wouldn't be wading through this tempest in a sweet teapot.

SaveFarris

Isn't it funny how when it's Bush using 9/11 in the same sentence as Iraq or Hussien, Lefties cry You're linking them when there's no connection!!. Yet Joe Wilson all but claims that Cheney sent him on his Niger vacation and the same bunch says He didn't say those magic words. So he OBVIOUSLY wasn't trying to imply that.

Lurking Observer

Martin:

As Lion points out, a goodly portion of the story lay in Wilson's claim that he had been sent by Cheney.

So, if the version as TM had laid out had been made, then the logical questions to ask would have been:

Why would Wilson DO such a hatchet job, if Cheney sent him in the first place?

Why did the White House/OVP send Wilson, if they knew that he was likely to do such a hatchet job on them?

To which, the natural answer would be, "We didn't send him."

Which then raises the question: "How'd he get the job?"

Somehow, this doesn't quite approach the level of "outing" Plame so much as answering the questions that naturally arise.

Jor

Too much minutia to follow, give us an eagle eye view of the reality-based conservative view point.

Martin

-Which then raises the question: "How'd he get the job?"-

Right. But since the answer requires leaking classified info-the correct answer is "no comment" And as the last few days have shown, the White House is clearly capable of saying "no comment."

So again, it's a pity they couldn't debunk Wilson without mentioning his wife.

Appalled Moderate

TM:

As an intellectually honest guy, does it bug you that every time there has been a substantive leak on this in the last few days, it has tended to link both Rove and Libby to the leaking? The idea thay might be acting in concert on this begins to feel more likely. (The Friday "pro-Rove" leak. Your Howie Kurtz leak)...

Lurking Observer

And exactly why would "His wife sent him" constitute leaking classified information?

If I know that:

1. His wife works at CIA; and
2. His wife had a hand in sending him

I can say "His wife sent him" w/o for one moment treading into the area of classified information.

This is where the debate collapses. The Left is convinced, it would seem that the very fact his wife worked at CIA is classified (which remains to be seen, but may well not be true).

As others have noted, however, the description given in Novak's column does not go beyond the "His wife works at CIA, and sent him" formulation.

Indeed, all that he apparently said (according to Cooper) is "Yes, I heard that, too." To suggest that this is tantamount to leaking (or even involvement) is, IMHO, silly.

Slartibartfast
I can say "His wife sent him" w/o for one moment treading into the area of classified information.

Although I don't necessarily disagree with you, the above statement isn't automatically true. Things that are unclassified when separate may be classified when they're associated with each other.

Jeff

If the administration was really trying to rebut Wilson's arguments, why not just say, Wilson was wrong in his belief that we saw his report, we didn't?

Tom, there is a difference between rebutting and discrediting. For one thing, you rebut an argument, a person can be discredited -- and that means in rebutting, you reply to an argument with arguments, while that's not necessarily the case with discrediting. The administration was not rebutting Wilson's arguments, they were discrediting him by throwing everything they had at him.

Also, Tenet did not rebut WIlson's arguments. You've said this any number of times. Tenet said the report resulting from Wilson's trip was not briefed to the VP or other senior administration officials. But it also says that the report got normal and wide distribution. How likely is it that the VP's office did not see it? Seriously, do we have any statements to the effect that it was not seen? As far as I can tell, this is one of the important matters on which the SSCI is strangely silent, despite the way you try to present it. Moreover, even if you take Tenet's statement that the report was not briefed to the VP as answering Wilson's claim that the VP should have gotten a specific answer to his question, that answer is precisely not the line peddled by Rove to Cooper and others to others, from what we have heard. They tried to question the origins of the trip in the VP's questioning (falsely), they threw in irrelevant nonsense about Plame's wife -- and the falsehood too that she authorized the trip -- as well as claims about other evidence.

Furthermore, that the report didn't change any minds is fully consistent with what we have been claiming for a long time -- that those driving to war were not open to being persuaded by facts. Is it any surprise that the report would not have changed their mind?

And by the way, Wilson's trip in any case does not provide any support for Bush's sixteen words, either in letter or in what originalists like to call plain meaning.

Truzenzuzex

Martin:

In the first place, who actually "[mentioned] his wife" in the context of exposing her CIA employment is very much an open question. Seems a lot of people had that information before (or at least contemporaneously with) Rove, Libby & Co. Even Andrea Mitchell admitted she knew it before it was plastered all over the paper by Novak. Therefore, it stands to reason a lot of people may have mentioned it.

It also seems doubtful Rove & Libby were actually cleared to know about Plame. Oh, no doubt they had the actual clearance level, but that nasty "need to know" thing would seem to be a real hinderance for purely political operatives in the context of a covert agent the CIA was actually trying to keep covert.

Another thing: I wonder how "I heard that, too" could be considered by a reasonable person to be confirmation by an administration source.

But hey, let's get real. All this is payback for the Blue Dress and that damn slippery cigar. Must be. The press wouldn't want to be seen as hard on Clinton and soft on Bush, eh?

Martin

"The Left is convinced, it would seem that the very fact his wife worked at CIA is classified"

Actually this was reported today in the WSJ:
"The paragraph in the [INR] memo discussing Ms. Wilson's involvement in her husband's trip is marked at the beginning with a letter designation in brackets to indicate the information shouldn't be shared, according to the person familiar with the memo. Such a designation would indicate to a reader that the information was sensitive. The memo, though, doesn't specifically describe Ms. Wilson as an undercover agent, the person familiar with the memo said.

Truz, the whole Andrea Mitchell thing is a lie first propagated by Powerline. I've quoted on this very blog Andrea Mitchell on Hardball last week expressly stating Plame was a covert agent.

Jeff

Truzenzuzex - Could you please provide the relevant Andrea Mitchell quotation, and please don't cite a second hand report from powerline for me. Thanks.

Tom - I think Kurtz's two columns can be explained this way: we know that Miller talked to Libby during the relevant period, but we don't know for sure that he is the official Fitzgerald wants to question her about. What's more, I would add, we don't know that he is the confidential source she is protecting. We also don't know that whoever Fitzgerald wants to ask her about is the confidential source mentioned in the Times' statement on her behalf. But of course I suspect that Fitzgerald wants to ask her about Libby.

SteveMG

Jeff:
"Furthermore, that the report didn't change any minds is fully consistent with what we have been claiming for a long time -"

That's because Wilson's "report" - by his own admission - was inconclusive. In fact, as I understand it, he didn't even file a written report. Just gave an oral presentation to the CIA.

Do you seriously believe that Saddam sent a representative to Niger solely to inquire about beans or goats?

I am continually amazed over how the left will string up Rove or Bush or Rumsfeld at the first hint of impropriety but will then bend over backwards to exonerate Saddam or OBL.

Amazing.

SMG

Martin

What did David Kay ever say about this Niger business? Anybody know?

Appalled Moderate

martin:

Since you ask, here's a transcript of a Frontline interview.

What about the Niger allegation -- that uranium was sought from an African country by the Iraqis for a nuclear project? Have you found anything at all to back that up?

We've done nothing about Niger at all. We have found one document which indicates that an unsolicited, or what appears certainly to be an unsolicited offer came from another country in Africa, or a citizen of another country in Africa, to be absolutely correct. We're following it up to see if there is anything behind it.

Jeff

In answer to both Martin and SMG, check this out:

http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd_2004/chap4.html#sect4

(And yes, I know this is not Kay, right?) I will not, SMG, treat this as definitive, but it is not weak either. And SMG, what on earth are you talking about regarding exonerating Saddam or OBL? Are you just trying to intimidate? If you are, it's not working anymore. We're talking about the justifications for going to war, which in a democracy is one of the most important matters there is. That has nothing to do with exonerating Saddam.

SteveMG

Jeff:
My points were the desires to exonerate Saddam in trying to acquire nuclear materials. Or exonerating Saddam re his contacts with OBL.

We've had dozens and dozens of reports in both areas and time after time after time many - not all - on the left bend over backwards to dismiss the charges.

And yet when a charge comes up implicating Bush or Rove or Cheney, the same people on the left are willing to string them up without a second thought.

If you're in the above category and feel intimidated, too bad. This is serious stuff we're talking about and the left in this country has been positively reckless and irresponsible in making wild accusations about the Downing Street memos or Wilson's report.

There is no evidence - NONE - that the Bush Administration cooked intelligence. Not ONE single source in the CIA has come forward to make that accusation. Not ONE single analyst or intelligence officer has come forward or leaked to the NY Times that intelligence on ANY matter of WMD was falsified.

NOT one.

Joseph Wilson's charges are completely bankrupt. He has lied repeatedly about the entire Niger matter. About the role his wife played, about the role of Cheney, about what he found.

Let's be clear Jeff, we're not intimidated by the reckless and irresponsible charges coming from the Bush-hating left either. This IS serious a matter. And those accusing the W.H. of lying to get into war have better be dammed accurate when they make those charges.

So far, it's been falsehood after falsehood after falsehood.

SMG

Jimmy's Attack Rabbit

Thank goodness TM keeps track of the facts for this non-story. Nada-gate ranks up there with Koran-gate, Flu-shot-gate, Al-Aqaqaa Explosives Dump-gate and Rather-gate for much ados about nothing.

It is helpful to hear/read what the denizens of the minority party say though. It's been a long time since the Left had anything meaningful to relate but I keep listening/reading anyway.

SteveMG

The Butler report:
http://www.butlerreview.org.uk/report/report.pdf

---------------
496 .As a result of the intelligence we judge that Iraq has:

* tried covertly to acquire technology and materials which could be used in the production of nuclear weapons;

* sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa, despite having no active civil nuclear power programme that could require it

499. We conclude that, on the basis of intelligence assessment at the time, covering both Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the Government's dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, were well founded. By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush's State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that:

"The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."

was well-founded.
__________________________

Let us remember that the W.H. stated that Bush's statement should NOT have gone into the SOTU because the CIA could not independently verify the charges.

No cooking of intelligence, no manipulation of secret information.

SMG

Jeff

SMG -
1. The main public justifications for the war turned out not to be supported by the facts. The Bush administration did not proportion their claims regarding Iraq's WMD and capabilities to the facts as they knew them, for instance.

2. I'd like a definition of "cooked" in "cooked intelligence" before I address that one. It strikes me as rather elastic, and therefore open to shifting arguments. I would note that the promised second part of the SSCI never came out, or am I misremembering something. Also, what ever happened to the investigation into the forged Niger documents themselves referred to in a footnote in the SSCI?

3. Can you please specify the places where Wilson lied about, especially, the role of Cheney, about what he found and about the role of his wife. I'm least confident in Wilson with regard to the latter, although I do think that he has been closer to honest about this than Rove was with Matt Cooper, for instance. I believe Rove was lying to Cooper when he said that his wife authorized Wilson's trip to Niger. Do you not? Why not? I'm more confident that Wilson did not lie about the role of Cheney in his trip. And I want to hear more about his claims about what he found.

4. Do you have any thoughts on the Iraq Survey Group's report? Does it make any impression on you? Or is that just the left dismissing charges again? Or did the MSM do it?

Miller

Why are some of you so sure that anyone who is concerned about possible leaking of classified information is a "liberal"? The ABC poll yesterday - condemn it all you want - showed many Republicans to be bothered by the leaking and the perceived lack of cooperation with the investigation. Rove and Libby probably aren't guilty of any crime, but what were they doing discussing CIA business with the press? The changing stories and parsing of words just don't reflect well on the President.

Martin

Careful Miller. Heretics are worse than heathens.

Miller

Heretic? Maybe just temporarily off the reservation. There is a wide range of opinion on Just One Minute, which has followed this story objectively from the beginning.

SaveFarris

Miller, "Most Republicans" have only one thing on their mind right now, and we'll know exactly what it is at 9:01 EST tonight.

SteveMG

Jeff:
This is an infuriating topic for us Bush apologists, oops, defenders. Rove will dock me a day's pay for that mistake. We all take his orders through the radios in our fillings.

Look, the fact that the justifications turned out wrong or incorrect does _not_ mean that the justifications were made up or falsified. Being wrong does _not_ mean being dishonest. I cannot begin to understand why people continue to believe that because Bush stated something that turned out wrong that that means he lied. He made his statements based on the best interpretations of intelligence provided him by his national security team.

Bush doesn't and can't know whether the aluminum tubes could be used for centrifuges. Or whether Saddam was trying to acquire uranium from Niger or the Congo. No president can know that. They must rely on their advisers and members of the cabinet and the information provided to them.

And yet all we hear is this "Bush lied, people died" mantra.

The Kay report or the Dueffler/Iraq Survey study are ex post-facto analyses. The fact that they show that the accusations by Bush et al. were WRONG (or inconclusive re uranium from Africa) is meaningless to the question as to whether the accusations were sound at the TIME THEY WERE MADE.

My understanding - as limited as it is - of these matters is that much of intelligence is murky and inconclusive. We have been seduced by the movies to assume that spy satellites can give us all this detailed information on military activities in other countries. It's a myth.

And so two people looking at the same information can honestly come to two different conclusions.

It's clear that the W.H. assumed the WORSE in many if not all of these gray or inconclusive area. From your perspective, I'm sure, this is manipulating intelligence because they wanted to go to war. From my perspective, this was the W.H. being extremely cautious about the capabilities of Saddam Hussein. They assumed that IF he could do it, he would.

The Butler report and the SCSI examined the intelligence at THE TIME Blair/Bush made their charges against Saddam and NOT after the liberation of Iraq. They looked at the statements re uranium, for example, and concluded that it was a sound accusation based on what was known AT THE TIME.

The fact that the charges may turn out to be incorrect only means that the intelligence was wrong NOT that it was falsified.

Enough blather from me.

I'm sure my erudition and logic have swayed you, no?

SMG


ArminTamzarian

It is unfortunate that the Administration has spent so much effort in an organized smear campaign against a nobody like Joe Wilson when Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the anthrax killer and so many other real enemies are free to carry out their terror against our country and our allies.

Right, Walter, isn't it a shame that our top military commanders have all been recalled to Washington to egg Joe Wilson's house, and that the troops in Afghanistan are being redeployed to a reading room in Kabul to look over all of Plame's files?

richard mcenroe

And in today's episode of "Immune to Irony":

From the Associated Press:

CNN: Novak's status unchanged.

Journalist Robert Novak's status as a CNN contributor will remain unaffected during a federal probe into the revelation of a CIA officer's identity, executives at the news channel say.

"I think we're all aware that no one really knows what's going on in the investigation of the Valerie Plame incident," said Jonathan Klein, President of CNN/US. "So it would be awfully presumptuous of us to take steps against a guy in his career based on second-, third-, fourth-hand reporting."

Patrick R. Sullivan

Wilson's conclusion, announced to readers of the NY Times in July 2003 was that he believed the, 'Bush Administration manipulate[d] intelligence...to justify an invasion of Iraq.'

After the Senate Intelligence Committee slammed him for inaccuracies, he responded to them by saying:

'I never claimed to have “debunked” the allegation that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa. I claimed only that the transaction described in the documents that turned out to be forgeries could not have and did not occur. .... The White House must have agreed. The day after my article appeared in the Times a spokesman for the President told the Washington Post that “the sixteen words did not rise to the level of inclusion in the State of the Union.” '

However the 'sixteen words' didn't claim that Iraq successfully purchased uranium in Niger in 1999. It claimed (in 2003) that Saddam 'recently' attempted to acquire uranium.

Anyone who can construct a valid syllogism which allows Wilson his NY Times conclusion, from the above material will be awarded the FLUBA Order of Merit, with Oak Leaf Cluster.

hercules

Patrick -

I searched at Acronym finder, and couldn't find FLUBA. What is it?

Regards,
hercules.

L.E.Kline III

Wilson lied about his wife's getting him the assiginment, About what he found out and about
Cheney's sending him. Copper tried to get info from Rove. Copper Knew about Plame. Rove has waved confidentiality and testifide. Wilson said that the info from Italy where fake. But how did he know? I'm guessing that Miller would not go to jail to save some one in the Bush WH. Could it be that the court is after Miller's source because CIA info was passed to Miller or other's beyond Plames CIA work?
Some say Wilson never saw the fake memo's.
How did he know they were fake?
Miller and Copper knew about Plame. They all knew Wilson's story. We all know he had a go with the truth. Some say that by the way that the law is written, Outting Plame is not a crime. Question? Do we really know what the court is after?

Patrick R. Sullivan

'I searched at Acronym finder, and couldn't find FLUBA. What is it?'

My fame doesn't preceed me?

Try Googling, 'FLUBA Dumbassy'.

hercules

Patrick-

Oh, for heaven's sake.

Apologies.

-hercules.

Krusty Krab

Minutia upon minutia: As I understand it, if the source had simply said "Valerie Wilson" (her correct married name), nothing would ever have come of this. The problem was the use of her maiden name "Valerie Plame". Valerie Wilson the CIA WMD expert need not be the same as "Valerie Plame" the covert operator.

TM

showed many Republicans to be bothered by the leaking and the perceived lack of cooperation with the investigation.

Boy, if they think this is "lack of cooperation", they should hark back to the Clinton years, when every request for info was battled as an intrusion on executive privilege, "Secret Service" privilege, and others I am blocking right now.

Jeff - good point - Kurtz does not flatly say Fitzgerald subpoenaed Miller to talk about Libby. But why wouldn't he, given his history?

Robin Roberts

You did get your carton of eggs, Armin?

holdfast

Can everyone please stop pretending that Plame was a "covert agent"! She may, at one time have been, but the vast bulk of the information currently availible indicates that she was not and if she had been, it was not within the last five years. Wilson's own bio (with respect to where he and his wife lived) bears this out. Do you not think that foreign intelligence agencies and other hostiles make a point of monitoring who goes in and out of Langley? True covert agents do not spend six years holding down relatively high-profile desk jobs, especially at a desk like WMD which requires lots of interaction with other agencies like State, the WH and the Pentagon. Putting an agent you really want to keep covert into a job with so much inter-agency contact is a sure-fire guaranty that said agent will not remain covet very long.

I have no trouble believing that Plame may have been covert at one time, but it seems clear that as she became more senior, she was moved into more of a conventional desk job in the Directorate of Intelligence (not the Ops Directorate where the real spies are). The DoI also just happens to be the directorate that is at war with Bush, Rummy and Porter Gosse. It is amazing that the press seems so interested in the story of how CIA employees attempted to influence a Presidential election and run their own foreign policy.

holdfast

My apologies - should have been "UNinterested"

Truzenzuzex

Martin/Jeff: Way back up I mentioned the alleged Andrea Mitchell acknowledgment in re Plame. Seems you are both right, I can't verify this comment from an independent source or transcript. I don't think I am going to agree it is a "lie", Martin, but I can't confirm it (sorry it took so long to respond, but I have another life outside this occasional hobby).

That said, "two out of three ain't bad", as the song goes. At least two people in the news media and possibly more (Rove alleged he heard about her CIA employment from a member of the media) knew about it. According to Cliff May, David Corn actually wrote about her covert status before anybody else did. Seems like a lot of people knew she worked for the Agency that didn't have either a security clearance or "need to know".

Comes now the left, asking the administration to fire Rove for a suggesting to a reporter he might have heard something somewhere about Plame working for the CIA. Not about her covert status, mind you, but merely the fact of her employment. This confirmation comes from a person in the administration who clearly had the clearance level, but most likely didn't possess the requisite "need to know".

So it appears we are dragging Rove (and Libby?) through the ringer for a non-confirmation about a "secret" many people knew about except apparently Rove himself. As you just proved from pointing out my error above, "hearing" something is hardly the same thing as "knowing" it.

M. Simon

I believe the Plame bit is a secret plot by Rove to keep the Democrats occupied and away from other more serious Republican faults.

The man is a genius.

On top of that he got the reporters to talk to him and got a NYT reporter jailed.

Jeff

SMG - I really appreciate your response, and you're absolutely right that the fact that the Bush administration was wrong about the facts that it used to justify the war and the question of whether it knew that at the time are two quite distinct questions. Sometimes it is tempting to run them together because a lot of Bush supporters -- including, seemingly, the judicious host of this site -- seem to refuse to acknowledge the former fact, as on the Niger uranium issue. You sound very reasonable in your post -- if those were the arguments put forth by the Bush administration for the war: "Different people could arrive at different conclusions," "the intelligence is murky" and so on, then I would have no problem with having that debate and deciding on going to war. Alas, those were not the terms of the debate. I suspect the Bush administration went with a "fake but accurate" self-justification. They really knew they were going on not much evidence, and they fabricated justifications on top of it, in the belief that surely Saddam really did have some combination of WMD and WMD programs.

Why couldn't the Bush administration just stick to the line, "Well, we assume the worst, but we really don't know what is going on, and in fact there's little evidence to suggest that the worst is going on. But still, it's Saddam Hussein etc"?

TM can link to Greg Djeredian calling Josh Marshall a liar all he wants, that does not mean Josh is wrong that both the SSCI and the Butler Report are reliable documents in crucial respects -- not because they are disagreeable, but for specifiable reasons, having to do with the facts they use and the way they rhetorically use them, and the way they have been questioned and can be questioned. For instance, the IAEA asked Britain to produce the evidence it had for the Butler Report's claims and conclusions besides the forged documents, and best as I can tell, the British refused. Doesn't that seem fishy to you? Anyway, did either the SSCI or the BUtler Report show that Iraq did pursue uranium from Niger, or Africa? or at most that this hasn't been disproven -- fair enough, as long as you keep a nice strict notion of proof (which is fine with me). But that's not a lot.

jukeboxgrad

Jeff raises some very good questions about the SSCI and Butler reports. This is sort of a follow-up.

On the subject of Plame's role in Wilson's trip:

According to Cooper's email, Rove told Cooper that Plame "authorized" Wilson's trip. Would anyone like to present a shred of evidence supporting this statement by Rove (assuming Cooper's email is a faithful account of what Rove said to Cooper)?

Especially in light of this: "A senior intelligence official confirmed that Plame was a Directorate of Operations undercover officer who worked 'alongside' the operations officers who asked her husband to travel to Niger. But he said she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment. 'They [the officers who did ask Wilson to check the uranium story] were aware of who she was married to, which is not surprising,' he said. 'There are people elsewhere in government who are trying to make her look like she was the one who was cooking this up, for some reason,' he said. 'I can't figure out what it could be."

And this: "At the CIA, the official designated to talk to me denied that Wilson's wife had inspired his selection but said she was delegated to request his help."

According to these sources, not only did Plame not "authorize" Wilson for the trip, she didn't even recommend him. The SSCI report claims she did recommend him, but the evidence it presents is weak.

On the subject of the Butler report allegedly vindicating Bush's 16 words:

Bush's famous 16 words included these: "recently" and "significant quantities." Do you all think recently was a fair euphemism for "early 1999?"

"Early 1999" is from the Butler report (pdf): "In early 1999, Iraqi officials visited a number of African countries, including Niger ... The purpose of the visit was not immediately known ... the JIC judged that Iraqi purchase of uranium ore _could have been_ the subject of discussions" (emphasis added).

The Butler report does assert the famous statement of 16 words was "well-founded." However, it's hard to understand why, because the proof it offers (noted above) is poor.

So "recently" seems to have a weak basis, and "significant quantities" seems to have no basis at all, since I can't find support for that latter phrase anywhere in Butler or SSCI.

In the absence of other evidence I can't seem to find, it seems that there's nothing inappropriate about Wilson's core statement: "if the president had been referring to Niger, then his conclusion was not borne out by the facts as I understood them."

In my opinion, Wilson was especially objecting to "recently" and "significant quantities." Can anyone show that Bush had any reasonable basis to say those things?

kim

Jeff:

1. Haven't the Bush administration's worst assumptions about Saddam proven grounded by the Duelfer Report and the reporting of Claudia Rosett?
2. Would you trust the IAEA? And no one has satisfactorily explained for me why the IAEA took minutes(at the last minute) to proclaim the Yellow Cake Papers forged while the CIA didn't figure it out in months.

Juke:

1. "Recently" in relation to what time span?

2. What is not 'significant'? Let's see perhaps a query coded commercial meant insignificant quantities?
==============================================

jukeboxgrad

Another question, going off in a whole different direction.

TM said: "What's up with Judy, and why can't she reach a deal?"

Recall how Cooper ended up off the hook at the last minute, as a result of Luskin making this statement: "If Matt Cooper is going to jail to protect a source, it's not Karl he's protecting."

Here's what puzzles me. Why didn't Luskin make a similar statement when Miller was heading off to jail?

Note what the Times said recently: "Mr. Cooper said he had gotten a 'specific waiver' of confidentiality from Mr. Rove. Ms. Miller says she has not received any such thing from her sources."

And why not, I wonder? Why isn't Luskin offering such a waiver to Miller, as a way to demonstrate that Miller is not protecting Rove? Here's what I think is the most parsimonious answer: Miller is indeed protecting Rove.

When Pearlstine caved in regarding Cooper's notes, Luskin was in a box, and this led to Rove giving Cooper the "specific waiver." It's very noticeable that Rove has not offered a similar specific waiver to Miller. I think yesterday the Times decided to call attention to this fact, in a somewhat subtle fashion.

I think Miller, given her track record as a loyal soldier for the in-crowd, is very inclined to keep covering for Rove. On the other hand, I think she's getting tired of sleeping on a cheap foam mattress, especially with Fitz turning up the heat (calling for criminal charges that could significantly lengthen her stay). So maybe we'll be seeing more from the Times along these lines: suggesting that Cooper is free and Miller isn't because Rove gave a specific waiver to the former and not the latter.

Anyway, I'd love to see someone ask Luskin whether or not the statement he made about Cooper ("if Matt Cooper is going to jail to protect a source, it's not Karl he's protecting") also applies to Miller.

kim

Merely answering your question and pointing out the reasonable basis for 'recently' and 'significant quantities'. Was that a little too far off the track for you?
===============================================

me (and TCO)

It doesn't matter who Miller is protecting: Rove, herself, Plame/Wilson, Libby, Colon, Bush, whatever. She IS IN THE WRONG. There is no reporter right not to answer a subpoena. We all have freedom of the press. And that means freedom to publish. not freedom to resist testifying.

WRT Cooper, I still find it bizzare that he waited so long to testify. OK, let's say you beleive him that it was that second Rove response. Why is he on talk shows?

R C Dean

Leftists sticking up for the CIA! Who would've guessed?!

With the KGB out of business, they're doing the best they can.

fred lapides

So much chatter, cleverness, argumentation...why not wait for outcome of work by Special Prosecutor rather than assuming you know it all or have all the answers or that "your" silde is right and the "other" side dead wrong? What is the big rush unless you have so little to do with your time.(ps: yes: I have the time. I am retired)

M. Simon

juke,

The NYT has said it will not cover J. Miller's legal expenses if she gives up her source.

Now why would the NYT take that position? The NYT has no love for Rove.

ergo - the NYT is protecting some one else.

M. Simon

Jeff,

Of course the Brits build up intel networks just to blow them to solve American political squabbles. It is what any competent intel agency would do.

LOL

Paul

Three quick points:

1) Saying "I heard that too" is not confirmation of anything beyond "rumor" status. If that's a "source" then so is a Magic 8-Ball.

2) The infamous 16 words used by the President were passed around and approved by all the intelligence agencies prior to the President using them (as with his other speeches). He did not invent or hype these findings. He simply passed along what the intelligence community told him. At one point, the agencies signed off on a specific number of tons to go with the allegation. The President did not use that number. If he wanted to hype the issue, he most certainly would have.

3) At the head of the class on "we were all wrong" was the CIA's with its estimates on Saddam's WMD. Who worked in that area? Valerie Plame/Wilson.

Cecil Turner

"ergo - the NYT is protecting some one else."

That may be true, but unless we're positing near-simultaneous leaks from different sources, it probably came initially from someone inside the Administration who read the INR memo.

Cecil Turner

"The paragraph in the [INR] memo discussing Ms. Wilson's involvement in her husband's trip is marked at the beginning with a letter designation in brackets to indicate the information shouldn't be shared, according to the person familiar with the memo."

Thanks Martin, that's an interesting development. If the information was marked as classified (and turns out to be the source), it might support a lesser charge of leaking classified information. (Though it'd probably still be hard to prosecute amid the buzz spawned by Wilson's column.)

Jeff

Kim - 1. Not as far as I can see. You're going to have to be more specific than that. 2. Okay - how about the public? Which brings me to:

M. Simon. Oh yeah, those double super secret British intel networks on Niger and Iraq. It must be those. Let's put it this way. Check out this:

http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/000930.html

and this:

http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd_2004/chap4.html#sect4

Do those make any impression on you? Or are you still just LOLing?

jukeboxgrad

KIM: "Haven't the Bush administration's worst assumptions about Saddam proven grounded by the Duelfer Report and the reporting of Claudia Rosett?"

No. The "Bush administration's worst assumptions about Saddam" were that he had massive stockpiles of WMD, ready to go at a moment's notice. Even Rosett herself had to offer this weasely, grudging acknowledgement: "CIA chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer may not have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

"Merely answering your question"

Most people realize that answering a question with another question (as you did here) isn't really "answering [the] question."

ME: "WRT Cooper, I still find it bizzare that he waited so long to testify."

I think the explanation is extremely simple. He's that almost extinct creature (especially in DC): a man of his word.

"Why is he on talk shows?"

Rove released Cooper to speak to the grand jury. Rove finally, at the last minute, did this in the form of a specific waiver that Cooper decided was genuine and uncoerced. Cooper has the right to speak publicly about his grand jury testimony. Rove surely knew this when he offered the recent waiver. Rove's recent waiver presumably didn't say "I'm releasing you to speak to the grand jury as long as you promise not to exercise your right to also describe your testimony to the public."

Cooper is "on talk shows" because he is no longer under any obligation not to.

Rove sort of ended up getting trapped, but not by Cooper. Cooper would be in jail now if not for some interesting last-minute behavior on the part of both Pearlstine and Luskin.

jukeboxgrad

FRED: "why not wait for outcome of work by Special Prosecutor ... What is the big rush"

We need Fitz to know whether or not a crime can be proved and attached to Rove. We don't need Fitz to know that Rove behaved improperly, by outing Plame to Cooper, and then lying about it for two years. At the very least, Rove should have his security clearance temporarily revoked.

SIMON: "The NYT has said it will not cover J. Miller's legal expenses if she gives up her source. Now why would the NYT take that position? The NYT has no love for Rove."

This is the same NYT that had no problem handing the car keys to Miller and Chalabi, pre-war. Therefore I find nothing surprising in the idea that this NYT might be inclined to engage in a little mutual back-scratching with the White House right now.

Also, it's possible that Miller was assisting Rove in his smear-Wilson campaign (there are many ways she could have done that, without actually writing an article herself; and keep in mind this sort of behavior on her part would have been utterly consistent with her pre-war behavior). If this is true, she's not just saving Rove's butt, she's saving her own. And also the butt of the NYT, because obviously such a revelation would be very damaging to them.

jukeboxgrad

PAUL: "Saying 'I heard that too' is not confirmation"

You can keep claiming that if it makes you feel better, but morally and legally you're wrong. When Rove/LIbby heard a reporter say something about Plame, the proper response would have been "you're talking about something that might be classified, so you should stop, and I have to get off the phone now to call the Agency so they can investigate what you're doing, and where you got it."

Instead, they said 'I heard that too.' This is a coy way of delivering a confirmation.

Imagine two kids in kindergarten. Jack says to Joe "Tommy wets his bed every night." Joe says "I heard that too." Are you really claiming that Joe's behavior is proper? Is this what you teach your kids? Is this what your parents taught you? Joe needed to say "that's not our business, and you shouldn't be saying that to anyone." Do you really not know that?

"The infamous 16 words used by the President were passed around and approved by all the intelligence agencies ... At one point, the agencies signed off on a specific number of tons to go with the allegation"

Really? Would you like to show where this came from? I've already asked this question several times (with no answer yet forthcoming): what is the basis for "recently," and what is the basis for "significant quantities?"

"At the head of the class on 'we were all wrong' was the CIA's with its estimates on Saddam's WMD"

Before the war, the right complained that the CIA was too soft on Saddam, with regard to WMD. Now the right wants to blame the CIA for being too hard on Saddam, with regard to WMD. Nice. From page one of Bush's playbook: never take responsibility. Always find someone else to blame, no matter how many lies you need to tell in order to do that.

nittypig

>According to these sources, not only did >Plame not "authorize" Wilson for the trip, >she didn't even recommend him. The SSCI >report claims she did recommend him, but >the evidence it presents is weak.


The SSCI source for Plame putting up Wilson for the job is hardly "anonymous". It's the CIA's counter proliferation division reports officer who is (understandably) not named in the report. The person is specified in the report, which furthermore states that "interviews and documents provided to the committee indicate that his wife, a CPD employee, suggested his name for the trip". Those documents are obviously not public, but they equally obviously exist. I'd say that documentary evidence outweighs testimony of a couple of officers. It's certainly unclear whether Plame "authorized" Wilson, but the evidence is very strong that she's the one who brought up his name.

jukeboxgrad

NITTY: "The SSCI source for Plame putting up Wilson for the job is hardly 'anonymous'"

If you like "unnamed" better, that's OK with me.

"I'd say that documentary evidence outweighs testimony of a couple of officers."

If there is really so much (or any) "documentary evidence," it's hard to understand why all SSCI gives us in the way of specifics is one sentence she wrote. Surely other selected excerpts could have been provided without endangering national security. Therefore I find this "documentary evidence" highly questionable. It's certainly not strong enough to be a basis for claiming (as many do) that Wilson is lying on this point.

"Those documents are obviously not public, but they equally obviously exist."

Plame's memo is also not public, but SSCI still saw fit to at least share one measly little sentence with us. Therefore I find it odd to consider the number of sentences provided from the rest of the pile of "documentary evidence:" zero.

And with regard to the one sentence we've been allowed to see, this explanation sounds highly plausible to me: "Valerie’s boss had asked her to write a memo outlining her husband’s qualifications for the job." In other words, it sounds like the manager had already made a decision, and it's not surprising that he would look to Plame as a source for information he needed to file his paperwork. Or maybe he was comparing candidates and wanted information about Wilson's qualifications, and therefore made this request to Plame. Plame simply providing information specifically requested by her boss is not a basis for claiming she "suggested" or "recommended" Wilson.

"It's certainly unclear whether Plame 'authorized' Wilson"

Your "unclear" is much too kind to Rove, unless you can find a shred of evidence to suggest the idea came from anywhere outside his imagination.

By the way, Larry Johnson says that "she did not have the authority to sign travel vouchers, issue travel orders, or expend one dime of U.S. taxpayer dollars on her own." The right is contradicting itself when on the one hand it claims that she was nothing by a lowly pencil pusher (and therefore couldn't possibly have any secret status worth protecting), but on the other hand she had the power to authorize an important intelligence mission.

"the evidence is very strong that she's the one who brought up his name."

What you've got is one ambiguous sentence from a memo, and one or two unnamed people, none of whom are part of her chain of command, making vague, unsubstantiated claims about how she "suggested" or "offered up his name."

This is balanced against a "senior intelligence official" who plainly said "she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment" (link). And another CIA officer talking to Novak who said essentially the same thing.

If what you're presenting is what you call "very strong" evidence, I'd like to see what you consider weak evidence. At best, what you have is uncertainty.

nittypig

The reports officer for the division in which Plame works told the SSCI that she put him up for the job. Anyone who knows the reporting structure of the CIA obviously knows who this person is. The sources you cite are anonymous, in that only the people they spoke to know who they are. The CIA officer cited in the SSCI report is nothing like anonymous - it's the freaking reports officer for her division!

We have two anonymous sources versus a source who is readily identifiable to anyone with the appropriate clearance, and who's job is to keep track of this stuff. I know where I think the preponderance of the evidence lies.

Do you need to know the name of the officer befoire you find the evidence credible? I though they weren't supposed to release the names of CIA officers.

jukeboxgrad

You're obviously entitled to your opinion about one unnamed source as compared with two anonymous sources. However, i think it's a stretch to call this "very strong" evidence.

Especially when there's allegedly a pile of "documentary evidence" and all we get to see is one measly sentence.

I think the fair conclusion is that we just don't know, and you're calling it "very strong" evidence because it suits the conclusion you've already drawn. Sort of like fixing the facts around the policy.

kim

Speculation about her role will depend on revelation of the motive for her role.
=================================================

MaDr

Martin

A few questions if you'll indulge me. First, I'll admit I haven't followed this very closely - like OJ, Blake, Peterson etal, I usually wait for things to run their course and wait for the outcome of the trial. Speculation (in judicial matters) is sometimes fun, but in general I usually avoid it.

I'm singling you out, because you seemed honest when you stated that you had an axe to grind, ie - Iraq war was wrong and you'll take any payback you can get. I respect that, I sincerely do.

Could you now please state what your position is on the following:

Are all classified government leaks wrong/illegal (choose your term) and should be prosecuted to the fullest, and if that fails (prosecution) there’s a higher standard, maybe the spirit of the law, that requires the guilty to be fired or resign?

If “government” above is too broad a term and you’d like to make distinctions between the CIA and FBI vs State Dept, HEW, etc, please do so. If you don’t make a distinction by government agency, could you please state your standard, ie national security, the common good, etc. Then tell me who your arbiter is in deciding these.

Is everyone who is a party to “communicating” classified information, before said information is formally declassified guilty? Are there any different degrees of guilt among these? If so, what?

Is anyone in this country above the law or above the spirit of the law?

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Wilson/Plame